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Flashback

An interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story.

In scriptwriting, a flashback (sometimes called an analepsis) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story's primary sequence of events to fill in crucial backstory. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. Both flashback and flashforward are used to cohere a story, develop a character, or add structure to the narrative. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to a time before the narrative started.

In a film, flashbacks depict the subjective experience of a character by showing a memory of a previous event and they are often used to "resolve an enigma". Flashbacks are important in film noir and melodrama films. In movies and television, several camera techniques, editing approaches, and special effects have evolved to alert the viewer that the action shown is a flashback or flashforward; for example, the edges of the picture may be deliberately blurred, photography may be jarring or choppy, or unusual coloration or sepia tone, or monochrome when most of the story is in full color, may be used. The scene may fade or dissolve, often with the camera focused on the face of the character and there is typically a voice-over by a narrator (who is often, but not always, the character who is experiencing the memory).

Key Terms

character
definition
events
flashback
flashbacks
flashforward
memory
scriptwriting
story
usage

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

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Synonymns

Flashback
Analepsis

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on January 11 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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